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On this page: Tyburn River - River Westbourne - South Kensington Mews



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AUGUST - The walk started at St Mary Abbot’s Church. Abbot’s is derived from the Abbot of Abingdon who founded the church in about 1100 when Kensington was ‘near’ London. The current church designed by George Gilbert Scott, dates from the 1860s. The steeple, a copy of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, is the tallest spire in London. There is a carpeted royal pew for the residents of Kensington Palace which is in the parish. As the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales left the Palace in 1997 it was the bell of St Mary Abbot’s that could be heard tolling. Following a narrow passage lined with ‘trendy’ shops a blue plaque commemorated Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Born in Idaho when the state was not yet been admitted as 43rd State of the Union, he came to London in his early twenties and soon made his name as an exponent of literary modernism and became a friend of many writers of the time. He moved to Italy in the 1930s and became involved in Fascism, being condemned as a traitor and put on trial and finally committed to a mental asylum after WWII.

We wandered on admiring tiny lanes full of houses with lovely gardens finding one or two enterprising commercial premises tucked away in unexpected places including a bespoke cycle shop and a used car showroom with a stunning display of top of the range veteran

cars. Opposite the church in Eldon Road was a plaque to Edward Corbould (1815-1905) watercolourist and one time art tutor to Queen Victoria’s children. Prince Albert was a fan and bought Corbould’s painting The Woman Taken in Adultery. Down a small flight of steps we found the long, elegant Kynance Mews with colourful houses and boundary archways indicating the extent of the original estates which were sold off to develop South Kensington in the 1960s.

"Unfurl" an artwork by Ellis O’Connell was commissioned by local residents in 2000. In Canning Place Tancred Borenius (1885-1948), first Professor of History of Art at University College London and a diplomat during WWII when he helped promote better relations between Finland and Britain, was commemorated by a blue plaque. And a little further on another blue plaque for Sir Benjamin Baker, best known for designing the Forth Road Bridge, and who was also involved in the construction of the first Aswan (Low) Dam and the London underground system.

On through more mews to Queen’s Gate Terrace and the Gloucester Road and after lunch finally Petersham Mews, Atherstone Mews to finish at the more mundane Cromwell Road tube station.                 (Report: Anita Butt; Photos: Maria Buckley)


Blue plaques.

St Mary Abbot's Church entrance.

St Mary Abbot's Church.

Adam & Eve Mews.

The Meeting Point of Radley and Lexham Mews.

Another archway.

"Unfurl" an art work by Ellis O'Connell, 2000.

A more recent development of luxury apartments.

A tree more usually found in India where it provides ample shade and the focus of many legends.

Entry to one of the walled estates sold off in the development of Knightsbridge in the late 1800s.

Front door of the artist Edward Corbould's Victorian villa.

Do not park in front of Sir Benjamin Baker's residence.


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JUNE - From Paddington Station we set off downhill passing Conduit Mews where a spring supplied water to the City of London from 1471 to 1812. Its name, Bayard’s Watering or bays watering (bays being horses) gave us what we know as Bayswater today. A blue plaque commemorates Tommy Handley (1892-1949). During WWII his comedy show ITMA (It’s that Man Again) featured Mrs Mopp the office cleaner and her catch phrase “Can I do you now sir?” It was the most popular radio show of its time. Crossing through Marlborough Gate into Hyde Park we found the drinking fountain featuring two Hugging Bears. The Metropolitan Drinking Fountain and Cattle Trough Association founded in 1859 provided free drinking water for both people and cattle. Have we come full circle with drinking fountains being provided once again to help combat the scourge of plastic water bottles? An ornate pump house at the head of the Italian Gardens provided water for the Serpentine lakes. The gardens were created by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1860. A statute of Dr Jenner who invented the smallpox vaccine watches over the garden.

The area now known as Hyde Park was once owned by the Abbot of Westminster Abbey and the river that flowed through it was partially dammed to create fishponds. Henry VIII seized the land, raised the dam and the park became a royal hunting ground. In 1689 William II created Kensington Palace. Hyde Park was the site of the Great Exhibition in 1851 before its removal to Crystal Palace. Despite its name the Serpentine is not snake shaped. As the Westbourne flowed through the park it was formerly called the River Serpentine and the lake was named after it. The naturally shaped lake we see today was created in 1730 by Queen Caroline as a water feature for the new Kensington Palace. In June 2018 a huge new sculpture was towed into position on the lake. Created by Christo it is called The London Mastaba and consists of 7,506 painted oil barrels.

Is it an ‘affront to nature’ or a barrel of fun? The view through the Henry Moore sculpture, inspired by a fragment of bone, to Kensington Palace is one of the longest uninterrupted views in London.

After lunch at the lakeside café we walked on down through The Dell, to Rotten Row and then South Carriage Drive beneath which is a huge brick line cavern where the Westbourne is joined by overflow from the Serpentine and the Tyburn Brook which runs down from Marble Arch. Out of the park through the Albert Gate, we crossed Knightsbridge into Wilton Place where we found a blue plaque commemorating the Lily Langtree one of Edward VII’s mistresses. In Kinnerton Street we found 8 little dead-end mews on the Duke of Westminster’s estate. On a wall near the end of Kinnerton Street Water’s Murmur a steel relief depicts the route of the Westbourne from Paddington to the Thames, created by Julien Stock in 2009 and cut using a water jet. In Motcomb Street only the façade of the Pantechnicon remains to remind us of the supposedly fire-proof warehouse burnt down in 1874. It supplied everything from furniture, pictures, carriages, toys and wine and storage. To describe what they sold they named it Pantechnicon from the Greek (pan – all : and techne - art), subsequently giving us the name pantechnicon for removal vans. On to Pont Street – another bridge here - probably given a French name to make the new development sound more chic and attractive.

On, passing Cadogan Hall and Holy Trinity Sloane Square where an absolutely huge stained glass window by Sir Edward Burne-Jones and William Morris led John Betjeman to describe the church as the Cathedral of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In Sloane Square Station a 13 ft dia iron pipe above the platform is the conduit for the Westbourne River on its way to the Thames at Chelsea. The pipe survived the bombing of the station in 1940

(Report: Anita Butt; Photos: Maria Buckley)


Henry Moore - abstract sculpture inspired by a fragment of bone

Brook Street Mews

Blue plaque - Tommy Handley WII Broadcaster

Vintage Rolls converted to ice cream van

The usual crew

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Walk marker

Statue of Dr Jenner inventor of smallpox vaccine

Another Mews

And another mews

Hugging Bears statue - drinking water fountain from 1939

The 'Italian' Garden

The original Pump House to keep water in the lakes

Blue Plaque Lily Langtree mistress of King Edward VII

View into a private garden

The 'Italian' Garden

Another mews

New floating sculpture for the serpentine nearing completion

Illusional fancy brickwork in Cadogan Lane


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MARCH After hurrying across Marylebone Road – recently identified as the most polluted street in London – found ourselves in the peaceful Paddington Street Gardens, formerly St George’s Burial ground. The land was purchased and consecrated in 1733 and up to the 1850s there were more than 110,000 burials, some as deep as 14 metres. The majority of the tombstones were removed when the gardens were converted to recreational use in 1885. The charming Statue of a Street Orderly Boy was presented to the gardens by a local Alderman in 1943. The Garden has won prizes in the London Garden Squares Competition on more than one occasion – most recently in 2017.

The River Tyburn rises near Hampstead and flows into the Thames at Vauxhall Bridge and in the past was tapped to provide water to the City of London. Although we will follow its route it is nowhere visible above ground.

In Moxon Street the Howard De Walden Estate, built between 1888-92, originally housed some of the area’s working class poor who had previously lived on the same site in miserable slum dwellings. Around the corner in Garbutt Place a blue plaque marked the place where Octavia Hill – housing reformer and co-founder of the National Trust – began her work in 1864 by taking the leases of three houses in Marylebone also with the intention of improving housing for the poor.

St James’ church in George Street was originally the chapel of the Spanish Embassy, at that time in Hartford House now the Wallace Collection. In the 1880s when £30,000 had been raised for a new building the current site became available for exactly £30,000 and it was snapped up so the project could go ahead. It is well used and maintained – in fact a funeral prevented our

going in – and John Paul Getty gave a generous donation having been visited by the parish priest while a patient in a nearby clinic.

Marylebone takes its name from the old village of St Mary-le-Bourne (Tyburn) and following the river down the twisting Marylebone Lane we passed the shop of Paul Rothe & Son established in 1900 and still run by his son Paul and great grandson Stephen. The windows were full of a wide range of jams and chutneys. The boutiques on Marylebone Lane proved a great temptation to some of the walkers. On through St Christopher’s Place we crossed Oxford Street, looking left and right to see the low point for the Tyburn. Crossing into Mayfair, in Duke Street we found a listed Electricity sub-station, the entry point to a raised garden with seats, statues and restaurants. On the corner of Weigh House Street stands the stunning Victorian King’s Weigh House Chapel designed by Alfred Waterhouse 1889-91. Once a Congregational Church founded above the original weights and measures office it is currently a cathedral for the Ukrainian Catholic Church in England.

Up Brook Street (another watery name) to Grosvenor Street, crossing into Grosvenor Hill we found a plaque to the 1960s fashion photographer Terence Donovan who died in 1996 – famous for his photos of Twiggy and Brigitte Bardot. Nearby three statues by Neil French, commissioned by Grosvenor Estates in 2012, depict Donovan ‘shooting’ Twiggy and a shopper passing by loaded with carrier bags. Crossing Bruton Street where Queen Elizabeth II was born we reached Berkeley Square. At the Lansdowne Club in Fitzmaurice Place a blue plaque commemorates Gordon Selfridge who died in Putney in 1947 in relative poverty.


Turning into Curzon Street we dived into Shepherd Market. The very heart of Mayfair the site of the earlier charter fair was once fairly poor farm land. It consists of a minute square and a small piazza and a few surrounding streets. Owned and laid out by Edward Shepherd in 1735-46 it is an example of how carefully 18c developers considered their tenants, providing shops, a market, a chapel (now gone) and taverns. It retains the character of a self-contained village. Until the 1970s Shepherd

Street was one of the most notorious ’red-light’ districts in London, until an act of parliament in the 1970s swept the girls off the street. Kitty Fisher – a wealthy courtesan - may have lived at No.36 in the mid 1700s. She was reputedly very beautiful and made a huge fortune, reported at the time to spend £12,000 a year and the first of her social class to employ liveried servants. She was painted by Joshua Reynolds and many others. She is immortalised in the nursery rhyme

Lucy Lockett lost her pocket (lost her lover)

Kitty Fisher found it (took him over)

Not a penny was there in it,

Only ribbon round it.

Lucy Lockett was a barmaid at the Cock Inn in Fleet Street. Pocket is middle English for a pouch or small bag, the implication of the rhyme could be that Lucy Lockett made very little money as opposed to Kitty Fisher at the top end of the market. She died young of course probably from lead poisoning from the white paste make-up popular at the time.

The walk ended at Green Park where the hidden Tyburn flows on past Buckingham Palace.

(Report: Anita Butt, Photos: Maria Buckley)


Top (left to right): The Street Orderly Boy (Street Cleaner) by Donato Barcaglia of Milan (1849-1930)., The Laundry Block - Howard De Walden Estate 1888. Block B Howard De Walden Estate 1888.

Above (left to right): Blue plaque to Octavia Hill. St James' Spanish Place - originally the RC chapel of the Spanish Embassy. Paul Rothe Grocers in earlier days.

Below left: Original entrance to Sarsden Buildings - social housing by Octavia Hill, Kings Weigh House Chapel on Duke Street, Shop Front - Paul Rothe - Grocers in Marylebone Lane since 1900

Bottom (left to right): Raised Gardens and Restaurants on Duke Street. 'US' being photographed by Terence Donovan and Maria Buckley. Around Shepherd Market


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Brentwood U3A web site was created and is managed by Brian Leith

Sunday, 19 August 2018